Tone discrepancies between dictionaries

timseb

举人
Hello,

I have tried searching, but of course I apologize if this question has been asked before. I know of cours of the tone differences between Taiwan and the mainland but I have noticed a lot of words having different tones in different dictionaries that are aimed towards the mainland (I think). Just two examples from the last hour: feng1shui5 (KEY/ABC/PLC) vs feng1shui3 (GF, OCC, PLC). nian2yue5 (KEY, PLC) vs nian2yue4 (GF, OCC). Are these completely interchangable? I'm using KEY for now since the definitions for a lot of chengyu are much better/grippable than a lot of other dictionaries, but I just want to make sure I'm not getting the wrong readings.

Another question: is there any good dictionary to use for characters? I've read that adding Da Hanyu Zidian is not possible. Is there any C-E to use? One that includes somewhat infrequent characters as well (not just the most frequent 2000, since I know them already). At the moment I'm jusing KEY, since they seem to explain the character meanings and all of its readings.

Thank you.
 

BenJackson

举人
I prefer ABC C-E in general, but particularly for single characters it is the best at distinguishing which meanings are bound forms and what the character means by itself. CEDICT will often have a comparable list of meanings, but the contexts where the meaning applies are not mentioned.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
To be honest there isn't really a consistent pattern in these cases - can be a duplicated error (dictionaries frequently copy from other dictionaries), can be a regional variation, can be that both are valid / interchangeable. The advantage of offering lots of dictionaries is that somewhere in between all of the minor variations you hopefully arrive at the truth :)

With the two cases you mention specifically, though, usually when you see two readings of a word and one has a neutral-tone ending and the other one doesn't, the neutral ending is the PRC version and the non-neutral ending is the Taiwan version.
 

Weyland

进士
With the two cases you mention specifically, though, usually when you see two readings of a word and one has a neutral-tone ending and the other one doesn't, the neutral ending is the PRC version and the non-neutral ending is the Taiwan version.
Most of these neutral tone discrepancies have to do with the fact that Mandarin is still actively being changed by the PRC government. However, these changes are implemented in waves. So, e.g. 已经 yi3jing has a neutral tone, while most Chinese (especially Southern speakers) still pronounce it with the first tone. And, this would've been correct a few decades ago. The first materials that see these changes applied are study materials, especially pre-middle school. So, while both are "correct" you can expect for the neutral variant to become the undisputed (mainland) standard if you wait a few decades.

Another one is 说服. Just ask your Chinese friends what the pinyin is and they'll probably say shuifu instead of shuofu.
 

timseb

举人
To be honest there isn't really a consistent pattern in these cases - can be a duplicated error (dictionaries frequently copy from other dictionaries), can be a regional variation, can be that both are valid / interchangeable. The advantage of offering lots of dictionaries is that somewhere in between all of the minor variations you hopefully arrive at the truth :)

With the two cases you mention specifically, though, usually when you see two readings of a word and one has a neutral-tone ending and the other one doesn't, the neutral ending is the PRC version and the non-neutral ending is the Taiwan version.
The Taiwan/PRC difference I have noticed, but I was a bit confused since this time that was flipped. But if I have understood this correctly, especially the answer from Weyland, none of the entries are "wrong" per se, but more or less common and regional? If so, that's not a problem for me, since I'm not practicing speaking at all. All I'm going for is comprehension. It's funny, I'm reading books nowadays at an OK speed, but I still come up with real newbie questions, it seems. :cool:

Most of these neutral tone discrepancies have to do with the fact that Mandarin is still actively being changed by the PRC government. However, these changes are implemented in waves. So, e.g. 已经 yi3jing has a neutral tone, while most Chinese (especially Southern speakers) still pronounce it with the first tone. And, this would've been correct a few decades ago. The first materials that see these changes applied are study materials, especially pre-middle school. So, while both are "correct" you can expect for the neutral variant to become the undisputed (mainland) standard if you wait a few decades.

Another one is 说服. Just ask your Chinese friends what the pinyin is and they'll probably say shuifu instead of shuofu.
Great explanation, thanks! Shuifu vs shuofu is a word I especially researched since I couldn't find a clearcut answer when I first encountered it. I somehow felt shuifu felt more natural saying it, so that version stuck, even if I have encounted shuofu a lot as well.

I prefer ABC C-E in general, but particularly for single characters it is the best at distinguishing which meanings are bound forms and what the character means by itself. CEDICT will often have a comparable list of meanings, but the contexts where the meaning applies are not mentioned.
I have found the KEY entries to be a bit easier to understand, especially when it comes to proverbs or chengyu, but I certainly appreciate ABC as well. However, ABC is not a viable option for my hanzi deck (I have one vocab deck and one hanzi deck for isolated recognition). This is because some of the ABC entries just tell me "Meaningless bound for". That is good and says a lot when looking something up, but for testing me on that specific hanzi, I would prefer it to say "quail" instead, even if its meaningless in isolation.
 

Fernando

秀才
As a learner I wouldn't worry too much about variations in pronunciation as it will just overload my brain. For me the best strategy is to adapt to the pronunciation of whatever group of native speakers that's closer to you. In may case it's the Taiwanese, so I just moved the MOE dictionary to the top of my list and the Taiwanese pronunciation is what I get at the top every time. I found it to be quite consistent with what I hear people say.
 
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